Saturday, December 31, 2011

Library Returns Today!

A shelf of books had to go back to the library today because of tedious things like due dates and other people's holds.  And then I went off to Utah for vacation.  But here are some swift reactions to the books they got back.

Book From My TBR List:
  • Don't Be Such a Scientist, Randy Olson.  Written by a marine biologist turned semi-successful movie producer, this polemic against boring attempts at persuasion looks at traditional ways of conveying information and laughs with scorn.  Too often scientists use the same protocols for public speaking that they do for research proposals, sometimes salted with contempt for their audience and general arrogance.  Olson suggests this may not be as effective as they seem to think.
Books From Reading My Library:
Border Crossing: A Novel
  • Border Crossing, Maria Colleen Cruz.  Twelve year old Cesi Alvarez would be a good friend to Keeper, since they both have the common sense of a newt.  Apparently no one ever told her that Mexico is a different country than the US.  It tries to be a cute story about a girl understanding her heritage, but it relies heavily on willful and strident stupidity from Cesi.  Luckily she sits next to her long-lost cousin on the train, much as a mermaid steers Keeper home.  But it completes North America for my Global Challenge!
  • Liberty Porter: First Daughter, Julia Devillers.  Nine year old Liberty looks forward to her new life in the White House, but first she has to straighten some things out with her dad's PR tool.  Cute and bouncy story that I think my fifth grader would like.  Also doubles as a location book for Washington DC, SCORE!
State Books:
    How Tía Lola Ended Up Starting Over, a book for young readers by Julia Alvarez
  • How Tia Lola Ended Up Starting Over, Julia Alvarez.  A blended family starts a B&B (or C&C&C) in VERMONT.  I liked the way the two families and their extended friends interacted and the conflict from the mysterious ill-wisher kept things interesting.  The sudden U-turn in the last few pages threw me violently out -- why suddenly tell me this is a book from a library and the characters aren't real?  I mean, I KNOW that...
  • Popcorn Days and Buttermilk Nights, Gary Paulsen.  City living has poisoned Carley, so that he intermittently erupts in meaningless acts of violence.  His mom ships him to northern MINNESOTA to spend time in the country, where he learns about beauty and hard work and grinding poverty that gets alleviated with genius and more hard work.
Vampire Literature Books:
  • The Vampire Defanged, Susannah Clements.  A review of vampire literature from Dracula through Sookie Stackhouse, looking at how Christian themes first dominated the literature and then gradually become replaced with more secular interests, paralleling the change from horrible monsters to sexy man-friends with an edge.  Clements thinks the genre would benefit from a return to a harder edge, which would also allow the Christian themes more room to thrive.
Books From My Favorite Authors
  • I read Tempering of Men by Sarah Monette and Elizabeth Bear just as the news of Anne McCaffrey's death come out, and it's an interesting homage to the Dragonrider books.  These men bond with their wolves, but the wolves are the dominant end of the equation, and the men adjust their lives to accommodate the wolves more than vice versa.  Sex gets complicated, for example.  And just as in later Pern books, these men are also facing the results of success -- they have beaten back the main threat that led to the pairings, so are they even necessary?  And what happens if the man you love doesn't love you back?

No comments: